The Modi government will kick off the exercise with a rating of 10 private companies from different sectors including textiles and manufacturing.
India Inc will soon have an incentive to design disabled-friendly buildings and human resource policies. A new index, likely to be unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 3 as part of 'Accessible India' campaign, will rate companies across public and private sectors for disabled -friendly initiatives.
December 3 is celebrated as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The Modi government will kick off the exercise with a rating of 10 private companies from different sectors including textiles and manufacturing, said an official, who did not wish to be named.
The campaign will involve a number of programmes aimed at making India more disabled friendly, he said.
The proposed index will give credits to companies for disabled-friendly office buildings, the number of disabled persons on their rolls, investment in training and career development of the disabled staff and the quality of facilities provided to them.
An audit of HR policies of companies will form a major part of the index, a framework for which has been worked out by the department of disability affairs under the social justice and empowerment ministry.
The index will also assess companies on sensitisation of peers towards persons with disabilities, providing products such as computers and mouse for use, provision of facilities like toilets and percentage distribution in employment of physically and mentally challenged persons.
"There will be extra credits for employment given to persons with extreme disability. There will be a differentiation not just to see the total percentage of persons with disability employed but also the type of disability people suffer from," said a senior official.
The official said the Modi-led NDA government is hoping to give the corporate sector an ethical push with this index "If you score high you can be seen as a socially responsible player in the corporate world. This could work as an incentive for the private sector to invest in the Accessible India campaign and help the government," said the official.
The government is hoping to rope in the private sector to adopt and retrofit buildings to make them accessible to disabled persons. The department of disability affairs is proposing tax incentives for private companies if they invest in the campaign. Though the proposal is at a nascent stage, the department is working towards finalising it before the launch of the index, an official said.
According to the official, the government is trying to avoid the mistakes committed during the execution of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the cleanliness mission launched by Modi on October 2 last year. "The private sector has to be roped in for the success of a programme. Under Swachh Bharat the private sector hardly came forward to build toilets," he said.
"The urban development minister had openly stated that holding a seminar here and there would not help Swachh Bharat. So we have worked out Accessibility Index," the official said, pointing out that the plan is to acknowledge effective companies through higher ratings rather than just encouraging them to adopt more disabled-friendly practices.
ET View: Enact law on rights for differently abled
The differently abled must not be discriminated against. Rating PSUs on the accessibility index is a good idea. However, the government must also swiftly enact the law which guarantees the rights and entitlements of persons with disabilities, given that India ratified a UN convention in 2007. The proposed law entitles persons with at least 40 per cent disability to benefits such as reservations in education, employment and preference in government schemes. As government services have been outsourced to private agencies, these must be also be covered under the law. Guaranteed rights will only strengthen the government's campaign.
Source : Economic Times, 21st Oct 2015